Friday, October 19, 2007

More Missing Players

A couple more news updates on missing players:

Brook Lopez Part Deux
Maybe there is someone reading this blog who has inside information on Stanford's program, but I can't figure out what is going on with Brook Lopez lately. First his grades cause him to be ineligible for the semester. Then, he misses more classes and a practice and is now kicked out of practice for an indefinite amount of time. I'm not going to speculate on what is going on with this kid, and hopefully for Stanford this is just a case of the coach wanting to send a message to a student about taking college seriously (like Bobby Knight did with Jarrius Jackson last year). And hopefully this malaise is just affecting Brook, and not the rest of the team.

Stanford is a team that overachieved last year, getting a trip to the Tournament that they probably didn't deserve. I would have given it to Syracuse, or even Drexel before giving it to Stanford. This kind of past can cause a team to rest on their laurels a little bit. Teams that overachieve one year can believe the hype too much and struggle the next year. Meanwhile, a team like Syracuse is more likely to overachieve this year, as they will be motivated by the Selection Committee's slight back in March. Stanford has a lot of talent this year, and I'd say their ceiling is something like a 4 or 5 seed. But if this behavior from Brook is a symptom of a general team malaise, this team could miss out on the Tournament altogether. We'll know soon enough what the Cardinal will be like this year. They have an incredibly soft out-of-conference schedule, but start the Pac-10 season with a bang. UCLA and USC show up at Maples Pavilion within the first week of 2008.

Michael Flowers Out "Temporarily" For Wisconsin
The impact of this news will depend on the definition of "temporarily". The cause of the absence could leak in the next few days, and Badgers fans will have to pray that this is a short-term absence from the team. Flowers is an absolutely essential part of a Wisconsin team that has the ability to be a Top 25 team and Tournament threat with him, but is a bubble team at best without him. His experience on the perimeter will be invaluable for a team that lost two heavyweight players to graduation (Alando Tucker and Kammron Taylor). In addition, Flowers is a premier perimeter defender, and will be necessary to stop teams with elite offensive guards like Indiana and Michigan State. Wisconsin had two talented offensive freshmen last year (Jason Bohannon and Trevon Hughes), but neither impressed too much on the defensive end. Barring a star defensive guard in Wisconsin's freshmen class, the Badgers will struggle to handle elite teams over the coming season.

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